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The Decameron, Vol. II. by Giovanni Boccaccio

Part 7 out of 7

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Sophronia, albeit she deems herself wife to Gisippus, is wife to Titus
Quintius Fulvus, and goes with him to Rome, where Gisippus arrives in
indigence, and deeming himself scorned by Titus, to compass his own
death, avers that he has slain a man. Titus recognizes him, and to save
his life, alleges that 'twas he that slew the man: whereof he that did
the deed being witness, he discovers himself as the murderer. Whereby it
comes to pass that they are all three liberated by Octavianus; and Titus
gives Gisippus his sister to wife, and shares with him all his substance.

So ceased Pampinea; and when all the ladies, and most of all the
Ghibelline, had commended King Pedro, Filomena by command of the king
thus began:--Magnificent my ladies, who wots not that there is nought so
great but kings, when they have a mind, may accomplish it? As also that
'tis of them that magnificence is most especially demanded? Now whoso,
being powerful, does that which it appertains to him to do, does well;
but therein is no such matter of marvel, or occasion of extolling him to
the skies, as in his deed, of whom, for that his power is slight, less is
demanded. Wherefore, as you are so profuse of your words in exaltation of
the fine deeds, as you deem them, of monarchs, I make no manner of doubt,
but that the doings of our peers must seem to you yet more delectable and
commendable, when they equal or surpass those of kings. Accordingly 'tis
a transaction, laudable and magnificent, that passed between two
citizens, who were friends, that I purpose to recount to you in my story.

I say, then, that what time Octavianus Caesar, not as yet hight Augustus,
but being in the office called Triumvirate, swayed the empire of Rome,
there dwelt at Rome a gentleman, Publius Quintius Fulvus by name, who,
having a son, Titus Quintius Fulvus, that was a very prodigy of wit, sent
him to Athens to study philosophy, and to the best of his power commended
him to a nobleman of that city, Chremes by name, who was his very old
friend. Chremes lodged Titus in his own house with his son Gisippus, and
placed both Titus and Gisippus under a philosopher named Aristippus, to
learn of him his doctrine. And the two youths, thus keeping together,
found each the other's conversation so congruous with his own, that there
grew up between them a friendship so close and brotherly that 'twas never
broken by aught but death; nor knew either rest or solace save when he
was with the other. So, gifted alike with pre-eminent subtlety of wit,
they entered on their studies, and with even pace and prodigious applause
scaled together the glorious heights of philosophy. In which way of life,
to the exceeding great delight of Chremes, who entreated Titus as no less
his son than Gisippus, they continued for full three years. At the end
whereof, it befell (after the common course of things mundane) that
Chremes (being now aged) departed this life. Whom with equal grief they
mourned as a common father; and the friends and kinsfolk of Chremes were
alike at a loss to determine whether of the twain stood in need of the
more consolation upon the bereavement.

Some months afterward the friends and kinsfolk of Gisippus came to him
and exhorted him, as did also Titus, to take a wife, and found him a
maiden, wondrous fair, of one of the most noble houses of Athens, her
name Sophronia, and her age about fifteen years. So a time was appointed
for their nuptials, and one day, when 'twas near at hand, Gisippus bade
Titus come see the maiden, whom as yet he had not seen; and they being
come into her house, and she sitting betwixt them, Titus, as he were fain
to observe with care the several charms of his friend's wife that was to
be, surveyed her with the closest attention, and being delighted beyond
measure with all that he saw, grew, as inly he extolled her charms to the
skies, enamoured of her with a love as ardent, albeit he gave no sign of
it, as ever lover bore to lady. However, after they had tarried a while
with her, they took their leave, and went home, where Titus repaired to
his chamber, and there gave himself over to solitary musing on the
damsel's charms, and the longer he brooded, the more he burned for her.
Whereon as he reflected, having heaved many a fervent sigh, thus he began
to commune with himself:--Ah! woe worth thy life, Titus! Whom makest thou
the mistress of thy soul, thy love, thy hope? Knowest thou not that by
reason as well of thy honourable entreatment by Chremes and his kin as of
the wholehearted friendship that is between thee and Gisippus, it behoves
thee to have his betrothed in even such pious regard as if she were thy
sister? Whither art thou suffering beguiling love, delusive hope, to
hurry thee? Open the eyes of thine understanding, and see thyself,
wretched man, as thou art; obey the dictates of thy reason, refrain thy
carnal appetite, control thine inordinate desires, and give thy thoughts
another bent; join battle with thy lust at the outset, and conquer
thyself while there is yet time. This which thou wouldst have is not
meet, is not seemly: this which thou art minded to ensue, thou wouldst
rather, though thou wert, as thou art not, sure of its attainment,
eschew, hadst thou but the respect thou shouldst have, for the claims of
true friendship. So, then, Titus, what wilt thou do? What but abandon
this unseemly love, if thou wouldst do as it behoves thee?

But then, as he remembered Sophronia, his thoughts took the contrary
direction, and he recanted all he had said, musing on this wise:--The
laws of Love are of force above all others; they abrogate not only the
law of human friendship, but the law Divine itself. How many times ere
now has father loved daughter, brother sister, step-mother step-son?
aberrations far more notable than that a friend should love his friend's
wife, which has happened a thousand times. Besides which, I am young, and
youth is altogether subject to the laws of Love. Love's pleasure, then,
should be mine. The seemly is for folk of riper years. 'Tis not in my
power to will aught save that which Love wills. So beauteous is this
damsel that there is none but should love her; and if I love her, who am
young, who can justly censure me? I love her not because she is the
affianced of Gisippus; no matter whose she was, I should love her all the
same. Herein is Fortune to blame, that gave her to my friend, Gisippus,
rather than to another. And if she is worthy of love, as for beauty she
is, Gisippus, if he should come to know that I love her, ought to be less
jealous than another.

Then, scorning himself that he should indulge such thoughts, he relapsed
into the opposing mood, albeit not to abide there, but ever veering to
and fro, he spent not only the whole of that day and the ensuing night,
but many others; insomuch that, being able neither to eat nor to sleep,
he grew so weak that he was fain to take to his bed. Gisippus, who had
marked his moodiness for some days, and now saw that he was fairly sick,
was much distressed; and with sedulous care, never quitting his side, he
tended, and strove as best he might to comfort, him, not seldom and most
earnestly demanding to know of him the cause of his melancholy and his
sickness. Many were the subterfuges to which Titus resorted; but, as
Gisippus was not to be put off with his fables, finding himself hard
pressed by him, with sighs and sobs he made answer on this
wise:--"Gisippus, had such been the will of the Gods, I were fain rather
to die than to live, seeing that Fortune has brought me to a strait in
which needs must my virtue be put to the ordeal, and, to my most grievous
shame, 'tis found wanting: whereof I confidently expect my due reward, to
wit, death, which will be more welcome to me than to live, haunted ever
by the memory of my baseness, which, as there is nought that from thee I
either should or can conceal, I, not without burning shame, will discover
to thee." And so he recounted the whole story from first to last, the
occasion of his melancholy, its several moods, their conflict, and with
which of them the victory rested, averring that he was dying of love for
Sophronia, and that, knowing how ill such love beseemed him, he had, for
penance, elected to die, and deemed the end was now not far off.
Gisippus, hearing his words and seeing his tears, for a while knew not
what to say, being himself smitten with the damsel's charms, albeit in a
less degree than Titus; but ere long he made up his mind that Sophronia
must be less dear to him than his friend's life.

And so, moved to tears by his friend's tears:--"Titus," quoth he between
his sobs, "but that thou art in need of comfort, I should reproach thee,
that thou hast offended against our friendship in that thou hast so long
kept close from me this most distressful passion; and albeit thou didst
deem it unseemly, yet unseemly things should no more than things seemly
be withheld from a friend, for that, as a friend rejoices with his friend
in things seemly, so he does his endeavour to wean his friend from things
unseemly: but enough of this for the nonce: I pass to that which, I wot,
is of greater moment. If thou ardently lovest Sophronia, my affianced, so
far from marvelling thereat, I should greatly marvel were it not so,
knowing how fair she is, and how noble is thy soul, and thus the apter to
be swayed by passion, the more excelling is she by whom thou art charmed.
And the juster the cause thou hast to love Sophronia, the greater is the
injustice with which thou complainest of Fortune (albeit thou dost it not
in so many words) for giving her to me, as if thy love of her had been
seemly, had she belonged to any other but me; whereas, if thou art still
the wise man thou wast wont to be, thou must know that to none could
Fortune have assigned her, with such good cause for thee to thank her, as
to me. Had any other had her, albeit thy love had been seemly, he had
loved her as his own, rather than as thine; which, if thou deem me even
such a friend to thee as I am, thou wilt not apprehend from me, seeing
that I mind me not that, since we were friends, I had ever aught that was
not as much thine as mine. And so should I entreat thee herein as in all
other matters, were the affair gone so far that nought else were
possible; but as it is, I can make thee sole possessor of her; and so I
mean to do; for I know not what cause thou shouldst have to prize my
friendship, if, where in seemly sort it might be done, I knew not how to
surrender my will to thine. 'Tis true that Sophronia is my betrothed, and
that I loved her much, and had great cheer in expectation of the
nuptials: but as thou, being much more discerning than I, dost more
fervently affect this rare prize, rest assured that she will enter my
chamber not mine but thine. Wherefore, away with thy moodiness, banish
thy melancholy, recover thy lost health, thy heartiness and jollity, and
gladsomely, even from this very hour, anticipate the guerdon of thy love,
a love worthier far than mine."

Delightful as was the prospect with which hope flattered Titus, as he
heard Gisippus thus speak, no less was the shame with which right reason
affected him, admonishing him that the greater was the liberality of
Gisippus, the less it would become him to profit thereby. Wherefore,
still weeping, he thus constrained himself to make answer:--"Gisippus,
thy generous and true friendship leaves me in no doubt as to the manner
in which it becomes me to act. God forefend that her, whom, as to the
more worthy, He has given to thee, I should ever accept of thee for mine.
Had He seen fit that she should be mine, far be it from thee or any other
to suppose that He would ever have awarded her to thee. Renounce not,
then, that which thy choice and wise counsel and His gift have made
thine, and leave me, to whom, as unworthy, He has appointed no such
happiness, to waste my life in tears; for either I shall conquer my
grief, which will be grateful to thee, or it will conquer me, and so I
shall be quit of my pain." Quoth then Gisippus:--"If our friendship,
Titus, is of such a sort as may entitle me to enforce thee to ensue
behests of mine, or as may induce thee of thine own free will to ensue
the same, such is the use to which, most of all, I am minded to put it;
and if thou lend not considerate ear unto my prayers, I shall by force,
that force which is lawful in the interest of a friend, make Sophronia
thine. I know the might of Love, how redoubtable it is, and how, not once
only, but oftentimes, it has brought ill-starred lovers to a miserable
death; and thee I see so hard bested that turn back thou mightst not, nor
get the better of thy grief, but holding on thy course, must succumb, and
perish, and without doubt I should speedily follow thee. And so, had I no
other cause to love thee, thy life is precious to me in that my own is
bound up with it. Sophronia, then, shall be thine; for thou wouldst not
lightly find another so much to thy mind, and I shall readily find
another to love, and so shall content both thee and me. In which matter,
peradventure, I might not be so liberal, were wives so scarce or hard to
find as are friends; wherefore, as 'tis so easy a matter for me to find
another wife, I had liefer--I say not lose her, for in giving her to thee
lose her I shall not, but only transfer her to one that is my alter ego,
and that to her advantage--I had liefer, I say, transfer her to thee than
lose thee. And so, if aught my prayers avail with thee, I entreat thee
extricate thyself from this thy woeful plight, and comfort at once
thyself and me, and in good hope, address thyself to pluck that boon
which thy fervent love craves of her for whom thou yearnest."

Still scrupling, for shame, to consent that Sophronia should become his
wife, Titus remained yet a while inexorable; but, yielding at last to the
solicitations of Love, reinforced by the exhortations of Gisippus, thus
he made answer:--"Lo now, Gisippus, I know not how to call it, whether
'tis more thy pleasure than mine, this which I do, seeing that 'tis as
thy pleasure that thou so earnestly entreatest me to do it; but, as thy
liberality is such that my shame, though becoming, may not withstand it,
I will even do it. But of this rest assured, that I do so, witting well
that I receive from thee, not only the lady I love, but with her my very
life. And, Fate permitting, may the Gods grant me to make thee such
honourable and goodly requital as may shew thee how sensible I am of the
boon, which thou, more compassionate of me than I am of myself,
conferrest on me." Quoth then Gisippus:--"Now, for the giving effect to
our purpose, methinks, Titus, we should proceed on this wise. Thou
knowest that Sophronia, by treaty at length concluded between my family
and hers, is become my betrothed: were I now to say that she should not
be my wife, great indeed were the scandal that would come thereof, and I
should affront both her family and mine own; whereof, indeed, I should
make no account, so it gave me to see her become thine; but I fear that,
were I to give her up at this juncture, her family would forthwith bestow
her upon another, perchance, than thee, and so we should both be losers.
Wherefore methinks that, so thou approve, I were best to complete what I
have begun, bring her home as my wife, and celebrate the nuptials, and
thereafter we can arrange that thou lie with her, privily, as thy wife.
Then, time and occasion serving, we will disclose the whole affair, and
if they are satisfied, well and good; if not, 'twill be done all the
same, and as it cannot be undone, they must perforce make the best of

Which counsel being approved by Titus, Gisippus brought the lady home as
his wife, Titus being now recovered, and quite himself again; and when
they had made great cheer, and night was come, the ladies, having bedded
the bride, took their departure. Now the chambers of Titus and Gisippus
were contiguous, and one might pass from one into the other: Gisippus,
therefore, being come into his room, extinguished every ray of light, and
stole into that of Titus, and bade him go get him to bed with his lady.
Whereat Titus gave way to shame, and would have changed his mind, and
refused to go in; but Gisippus, no less zealous at heart than in words to
serve his friend, after no small contention prevailed on him to go
thither. Now no sooner was Titus abed with the lady, than, taking her in
his arms, he, as if jestingly, asked in a low tone whether she were
minded to be his wife. She, taking him to be Gisippus, answered, yes;
whereupon he set a fair and costly ring on her finger, saying:--"And I am
minded to be thy husband." And having presently consummated the marriage,
he long and amorously disported him with her, neither she, nor any other,
being ever aware that another than Gisippus lay with her.

Now Titus and Sophronia being after this sort wedded, Publius, the father
of Titus, departed this life. For which cause Titus was bidden by letter
to return forthwith to Rome to see to his affairs; wherefore he took
counsel with Gisippus how he might take Sophronia thither with him; which
might not well be done without giving her to know how matters stood.
Whereof, accordingly, one day, having called her into the chamber, they
fully apprised her, Titus for her better assurance bringing to her
recollection not a little of what had passed between them. Whereat she,
after glancing from one to the other somewhat disdainfully, burst into a
flood of tears, and reproached Gisippus that he had so deluded her; and
forthwith, saying nought of the matter to any there, she hied her forth
of Gisippus' house and home to her father, to whom and her mother she
recounted the deceit which Gisippus had practised upon them as upon her,
averring that she was the wife not of Gisippus, as they supposed, but of
Titus. Whereby her father was aggrieved exceedingly, and prolonged and
grave complaint was made thereof by him and his own and Gisippus'
families, and there was not a little parleying, and a world of pother.
Gisippus earned the hatred of both his own and Sophronia's kin, and all
agreed that he merited not only censure but severe punishment. He,
however, averred that he had done a thing seemly, and that Sophronia's
kinsfolk owed him thanks for giving her in marriage to one better than

All which Titus witnessed with great suffering, and witting that 'twas
the way of the Greeks to launch forth in high words and menaces, and
refrain not until they should meet with one that answered them, whereupon
they were wont to grow not only humble but even abject, was at length
minded that their clavers should no longer pass unanswered; and, as with
his Roman temper he united Athenian subtlety, he cleverly contrived to
bring the kinsfolk, as well of Gisippus as of Sophronia, together in a
temple, where, being entered, attended only by Gisippus, thus (they being
intent to hear) he harangued them:--"'Tis the opinion of not a few
philosophers that whatsoever mortals do is ordained by the providence of
the immortal Gods; for which cause some would have it that nought either
is, or ever shall be, done, save of necessity, albeit others there are
that restrict this necessity to that which is already done. Regard we but
these opinions with some little attention, and we shall very plainly
perceive that to censure that which cannot be undone is nought else but
to be minded to shew oneself wiser than the Gods; by whom we must suppose
that we and our affairs are swayed and governed with uniform and unerring
wisdom. Whereby you may very readily understand how vain and foolish a
presumption it is to pass judgment on their doings, and what manner and
might of chains they need who suffer themselves to be transported to such
excess of daring. Among whom, in my judgment, you must one and all be
numbered, if 'tis true, what I hear, to wit, that you have complained and
do continue to complain that Sophronia, albeit you gave her to Gisippus,
is, nevertheless, become my wife; not considering that 'twas ordained
from all eternity that she should become, not the wife of Gisippus, but
mine, as the fact does now declare.

"But, for that discourse of the secret providence and purposes of the
Gods seems to many a matter hard and scarce to be understood, I am
willing to assume that they meddle in no wise with our concerns, and to
descend to the region of human counsels; in speaking whereof I must needs
do two things quite at variance with my wont, to wit, in some degree
praise myself and censure or vilify another. But, as in either case I
mean not to deviate from the truth, and 'tis what the occasion demands, I
shall not fail so to do. With bitter upbraidings, animated rather by rage
than by reason, you cease not to murmur, nay, to cry out, against
Gisippus, and to harass him with your abuse, and hold him condemned, for
that her, whom you saw fit to give him, he has seen fit to give me, to
wife; wherein I deem him worthy of the highest commendation, and that for
two reasons, first, because he has done the office of a friend, and
secondly, because he has done more wisely than you did. After what sort
the sacred laws of friendship prescribe that friend shall entreat friend,
'tis not to my present purpose to declare; 'twill suffice to remind you
that the tie of friendship should be more binding than that of blood, or
kinship; seeing that our friends are of our own choosing, whereas our
kinsfolk are appointed us by Fortune; wherefore, if my life was more to
Gisippus than your goodwill, since I am, as I hold myself, his friend,
can any wonder thereat?

"But pass we to my second reason; in the exposition whereof I must needs
with yet more cogency prove to you that he has been wiser than you,
seeing that, methinks, you wot nought of the providence of the Gods, and
still less of the consequences of friendship. I say then, that, as 'twas
your premeditated and deliberate choice that gave Sophronia to this young
philosopher Gisippus, so 'twas his that gave her to another young
philosopher. 'Twas your counsel that gave her to an Athenian; 'twas his
that gave her to a Roman: 'twas your counsel that gave her to a man of
gentle birth; 'twas his that gave her to one of birth yet gentler:
wealthy was he to whom your counsel gave her, most wealthy he to whom his
counsel gave her. Not only did he to whom your counsel gave her, love her
not, but he scarce knew her, whereas 'twas to one that loved her beyond
all other blessings, nay, more dearly than his own life, that his counsel
gave her. And to the end that it may appear more plainly that 'tis even
as I say, and Gisippus' counsel more to be commended than yours, let us
examine it point by point. That I, like Gisippus, am young and a
philosopher, my countenance and my pursuits may, without making more
words about the matter, sufficiently attest. We are also of the same age,
and have ever kept pace together in our studies. Now true it is that he
is an Athenian, and I am a Roman. But, as touching the comparative glory
of the cities, should the matter be mooted, I say that I am of a free
city, and he of a city tributary; that I am of a city that is mistress of
all the world, and he of one that is subject to mine; that I am of a city
that flourishes mightily in arms, in empire, and in arts; whereas he
cannot boast his city as famous save in arts.

"Moreover, albeit you see me here in the guise of a most humble scholar,
I am not born of the dregs of the populace of Rome. My halls and the
public places of Rome are full of the antique effigies of my forefathers,
and the annals of Rome abound with the records of triumphs led by the
Quintii to the Roman Capitol; and so far from age having withered it,
to-day, yet more abundantly than ever of yore, flourishes the glory of
our name. Of my wealth I forbear, for shame, to speak, being mindful that
honest poverty is the time-honoured and richest inheritance of the noble
citizens of Rome; but, allowing for the nonce the opinion of the vulgar,
which holds poverty in disrepute, and highly appraises wealth, I, albeit
I never sought it, yet, as the favoured of Fortune, have abundant store
thereof. Now well I wot that, Gisippus being of your own city, you justly
prized and prize an alliance with him; but not a whit less should you
prize an alliance with me at Rome, considering that there you will have
in me an excellent host, and a patron apt, zealous and potent to serve
you as well in matters of public interest as in your private concerns.
Who, then, dismissing all bias from his mind, and judging with impartial
reason, would deem your counsel more commendable than that of Gisippus?
Assuredly none. Sophronia, then, being married to Titus Quintius Fulvus,
a citizen of Rome, of an ancient and illustrious house, and wealthy, and
a friend of Gisippus, whoso takes umbrage or offence thereat, does that
which it behoves him not to do, and knows not what he does.

"Perchance some will say that their complaint is not that Sophronia is
the wife of Titus, but that she became his wife after such a sort, to
wit, privily, by theft, neither friend nor any of her kin witting aught
thereof; but herein is no matter of marvel, no prodigy as yet unheard-of.
I need not instance those who before now have taken to them husbands in
defiance of their fathers' will, or have eloped with their lovers and
been their mistresses before they were their wives, or of whose marriages
no word has been spoken, until their pregnancy or parturition published
them to the world, and necessity sanctioned the fact: nought of this has
happened in the case of Sophronia; on the contrary, 'twas in proper form,
and in meet and seemly sort, that Gisippus gave her to Titus. And others,
peradventure, will say that 'twas by one to whom such office belonged not
that she was bestowed in marriage. Nay, but this is but vain and womanish
querulousness, and comes of scant consideration. Know we not, then, that
Fortune varies according to circumstances her methods and her means of
disposing events to their predetermined ends? What matters it to me, if
it be a cobbler, rather than a philosopher, that Fortune has ordained to
compass something for me, whether privily or overtly, so only the result
is as it should be? I ought, indeed, to take order, if the cobbler be
indiscreet, that he meddle no more in affairs of mine, but, at the same
time, I ought to thank him for what he has done. If Gisippus has duly
bestowed Sophronia in marriage, it is gratuitous folly to find fault with
the manner and the person. If you mistrust his judgment, have a care that
it be not in his power to do the like again, but thank him for this turn.

"Natheless, you are to know that I used no cunning practice or deceit to
sully in any degree the fair fame of your house in the person of
Sophronia; and, albeit I took her privily to wife, I came not as a
ravisher to despoil her of her virginity, nor in any hostile sort was I
minded to make her mine on dishonourable terms, and spurn your alliance;
but, being fervently enamoured of her bewitching beauty and her noble
qualities, I wist well that, should I make suit for her with those
formalities which you, perchance, will say were due, then, for the great
love you bear her, and for fear lest I should take her away with me to
Rome, I might not hope to have her. Accordingly I made use of the secret
practice which is now manifest to you, and brought Gisippus to consent in
my interest to that whereto he was averse; and thereafter, ardently
though I loved her, I sought not to commingle with her as a lover, but as
a husband, nor closed with her, until, as she herself by her true witness
may assure you, I had with apt words and with the ring made her my lawful
wife, asking her if she would have me to husband, whereto she answered,
yes. Wherein if she seem to have been tricked, 'tis not I that am to
blame, but she, for that she asked me not who I was.

"This, then, is the great wrong, sin, crime, whereof for love and
friendship's sake Gisippus and I are guilty, that Sophronia is privily
become the wife of Titus Quintius: 'tis for this that you harass him with
your menaces and hostile machinations. What more would you do, had he
given her to a villein, to a caitiff, to a slave? Where would you find
fetters, dungeons, crosses adequate to your vengeance? But enough of this
at present: an event, which I did not expect, has now happened; my father
is dead; and I must needs return to Rome; wherefore, being fain to take
Sophronia with me, I have discovered to you that which otherwise I had,
perchance, still kept close. Whereto, if you are wise, you will gladly
reconcile yourselves; for that, if I had been minded to play you false,
or put an affront upon you, I might have scornfully abandoned her to you;
but God forefend that such baseness be ever harboured in a Roman breast.
Sophronia, then, by the will of the Gods, by force of law, and by my own
love-taught astuteness, is mine. The which it would seem that you,
deeming yourselves, peradventure, wiser than the Gods, or the rest of
mankind, do foolishly set at nought, and that in two ways alike most
offensive to me; inasmuch as you both withhold from me Sophronia, in whom
right, as against me, you have none, and also entreat as your enemy
Gisippus, to whom you are rightfully bounden. The folly whereof I purpose
not at present fully to expound to you, but in friendly sort to counsel
you to abate your wrath and abandon all your schemes of vengeance, and
restore Sophronia to me, that I may part from you on terms of amity and
alliance, and so abide: but of this rest assured, that whether this,
which is done, like you or not, if you are minded to contravene it, I
shall take Gisippus hence with me, and once arrived in Rome, shall in
your despite find means to recover her who is lawfully mine, and pursuing
you with unremitting enmity, will apprise you by experience of the full
measure and effect of a Roman's wrath."

Having so said, Titus started to his feet, his countenance distorted by
anger, and took Gisippus by the hand, and with manifest contempt for all
the rest, shaking his head at them and threatening them, led him out of
the temple. They that remained in the temple, being partly persuaded by
his arguments to accept his alliance and friendship, partly terrified by
his last words, resolved by common consent that 'twas better to have the
alliance of Titus, as they had lost that of Gisippus, than to add to that
loss the enmity of Titus. Wherefore they followed Titus, and having come
up with him, told him that they were well pleased that Sophronia should
be his, and that they should prize his alliance and the friendship of
dear Gisippus; and having ratified this treaty of amity and alliance with
mutual cheer, they departed and sent Sophronia to Titus. Sophronia,
discreetly making a virtue of necessity, transferred forthwith to Titus
the love she had borne Gisippus, and being come with Titus to Rome, was
there received with no small honour. Gisippus tarried in Athens, held in
little account by well-nigh all the citizens, and being involved in
certain of their broils, was, not long afterwards, with all his
household, banished the city, poor, nay, destitute, and condemned to
perpetual exile. Thus hard bested, and at length reduced to mendicancy,
he made his way, so as least discomfortably he might, to Rome, being
minded to see whether Titus would remember him: and there, learning that
Titus lived, and was much affected by all the Romans, and having found
out his house, he took his stand in front of it, and watched until Titus
came by; to whom, for shame of the sorry trim that he was in, he ventured
no word, but did his endeavour that he might be seen of him, hoping that
Titus might recognize him, and call him by his name: but Titus passing
on, Gisippus deeming that he had seen and avoided him, and calling to
mind that which aforetime he had done for him, went away wroth and
desperate. And fasting and penniless, and--for 'twas now night--knowing
not whither he went, and yearning above all for death, he wandered by
chance to a spot, which, albeit 'twas within the city, had much of the
aspect of a wilderness, and espying a spacious grotto, he took shelter
there for the night; and worn out at last with grief, on the bare ground,
wretchedly clad as he was, he fell asleep.

Now two men that had that night gone out a thieving, having committed the
theft, came towards morning to the grotto, and there quarrelled, and the
stronger slew the other, and took himself off. Aroused by the noise,
Gisippus witnessed the murder, and deeming that he had now the means of
compassing, without suicide, the death for which he so much longed,
budged not a jot, but stayed there, until the serjeants of the court,
which had already got wind of the affair, came on the scene, and laid
violent hands upon him, and led him away. Being examined, he confessed
that he had slain the man, and had then been unable to make his escape
from the grotto. Wherefore the praetor, Marcus Varro by name, sentenced
him to death by crucifixion, as was then the custom. But Titus, who
happened at that moment to come into the praetorium, being told the crime
for which he was condemned, and scanning the poor wretch's face,
presently recognized him for Gisippus, and marvelled how he should come
to be there, and in such a woeful plight. And most ardently desiring to
succour him, nor seeing other way to save his life except to exonerate
him by accusing himself, he straightway stepped forward, and said with a
loud voice:--"Marcus Varro, call back the poor man on whom thou hast
passed sentence, for he is innocent. 'Tis enough that I have incurred the
wrath of the Gods by one deed of violence, to wit, the murder of him whom
your serjeants found dead this morning, without aggravating my offence by
the death of another innocent man." Perplexed, and vexed that he should
have been heard by all in the praetorium, but unable honourably to avoid
compliance with that which the laws enjoined, Varro had Gisippus brought
back, and in presence of Titus said to him:--"How camest thou to be so
mad as, though no constraint was put upon thee, to confess a deed thou
never didst, thy life being at stake? Thou saidst that 'twas thou by whom
the man was slain last night, and now comes this other, and says that
'twas not thou but he that slew him." Gisippus looked, and seeing Titus,
wist well that, being grateful for the service rendered by him in the
past, Titus was now minded to save his life at the cost of his own:
wherefore, affected to tears, he said:--"Nay but, Varro, in very sooth I
slew him, and 'tis now too late, this tender solicitude of Titus for my
deliverance." But on his part:--"Praetor," quoth Titus, "thou seest this
man is a stranger, and was found unarmed beside the murdered man; thou
canst not doubt that he was fain of death for very wretchedness:
wherefore discharge him, and let punishment light on me who have merited

Marvelling at the importunity of both, Varro readily surmised that
neither was guilty. And while he was casting about how he might acquit
them, lo, in came a young man, one Publius Ambustus, a desperate
character, and known to all the Romans for an arrant thief. He it was
that had verily committed the murder, and witting both the men to be
innocent of that of which each accused himself, so sore at heart was he
by reason of their innocence, that, overborne by an exceeding great
compassion, he presented himself before Varro, and:--"Praetor," quoth he,
"'tis destiny draws me hither to loose the knot of these men's
contention; and some God within me leaves me no peace of his whips and
stings, until I discover my offence: wherefore know that neither of these
men is guilty of that of which each accuses himself. 'Tis verily I that
slew the man this morning about daybreak; and before I slew him, while I
was sharing our plunder with him, I espied this poor fellow asleep there.
Nought need I say to clear Titus: the general bruit of his illustrious
renown attests that he is not a man of such a sort. Discharge him,
therefore, and exact from me the penalty prescribed by the laws."

The affair had by this time come to the ears of Octavianus, who caused
all three to be brought before him, and demanded to know the causes by
which they had been severally moved to accuse themselves; and, each
having told his story, Octavianus released the two by reason of their
innocence, and the third for love of them. Titus took Gisippus home,
having first chidden him not a little for his faint-heartedness and
diffidence, and there, Sophronia receiving him as a brother, did him
marvellous cheer; and having comforted him a while, and arrayed him in
apparel befitting his worth and birth, he first shared with him all his
substance, and then gave him his sister, a young damsel named Fulvia, to
wife, and said to him:--"Choose now, Gisippus, whether thou wilt tarry
here with me, or go back to Achaia with all that I have given thee."

Partly perforce of his banishment from his city, partly for that the
sweet friendship of Titus was justly dear to him, Gisippus consented to
become a Roman. And so, long and happily they lived together at Rome,
Gisippus with his Fulvia, and Titus with his Sophronia, in the same
house, growing, if possible, greater friends day by day.

Exceeding sacred then, is friendship, and worthy not only to be had in
veneration, but to be extolled with never-ending praise, as the most
dutiful mother of magnificence and seemliness, sister of gratitude and
charity, and foe to enmity and avarice; ever, without waiting to be
asked, ready to do as generously by another as she would be done by
herself. Rarely indeed is it to-day that twain are found, in whom her
most holy fruits are manifest; for which is most shamefully answerable
the covetousness of mankind, which, regarding only private interest, has
banished friendship beyond earth's farthest bourne, there to abide in
perpetual exile. How should love, or wealth, or kinship, how should aught
but friendship have so quickened the soul of Gisippus that the tears and
sighs of Titus should incline his heart to cede to him the fair and
gracious lady that was his betrothed and his beloved? Laws, menaces,
terror! How should these, how should aught but friendship, have withheld
Gisippus, in lonely places, in hidden retreats, in his own bed, from
enfolding (not perchance unsolicited by her) the fair damsel within his
youthful embrace? Honours, rewards, gains! Would Gisippus for these,
would he for aught but friendship, have made nothing of the loss of
kindred--his own and Sophronia's--have made nothing of the injurious
murmurs of the populace, have made nothing of mocks and scorns, so only
he might content his friend? And on the other hand, for what other cause
than friendship had Titus, when he might decently have feigned not to
see, have striven with the utmost zeal to compass his own death, and set
himself upon the cross in Gisippus' stead? And what but friendship had
left no place for suspicion in the soul of Titus, and filled it with a
most fervent desire to give his sister to Gisippus, albeit he saw him to
be reduced to extreme penury and destitution? But so it is that men covet
hosts of acquaintance, troops of kinsfolk, offspring in plenty; and the
number of their dependants increases with their wealth; and they reflect
not that there is none of these, be he who he may, but will be more
apprehensive of the least peril threatening himself than cumbered to
avert a great peril from his lord or kinsman, whereas between friends we
know 'tis quite contrariwise.


Saladin, in guise of a merchant, is honourably entreated by Messer
Torello. The Crusade ensuing, Messer Torello appoints a date, after which
his wife may marry again: he is taken prisoner, and by training hawks
comes under the Soldan's notice. The Soldan recognizes him, makes himself
known to him, and entreats him with all honour. Messer Torello falls
sick, and by magic arts is transported in a single night to Pavia, where
his wife's second marriage is then to be solemnized, and being present
thereat, is recognized by her, and returns with her to his house.

So ended Filomena her story, and when all alike had commended the
magnificence shewn by Titus in his gratitude, the king, reserving the
last place for Dioneo, thus began:--Lovesome my ladies, true beyond all
question is what Filomena reports of friendship, and with justice did she
deplore in her closing words the little account in which 'tis held to-day
among mortals. And were we here for the purpose of correcting, or even of
censuring, the vices of the age, I should add a copious sequel to her
discourse; but as we have another end in view, it has occurred to me to
set before you in a narrative, which will be of considerable length, but
entertaining throughout, an instance of Saladin's magnificence, to the
end that, albeit, by reason of our vices, it may not be possible for us
to gain to the full the friendship of any, yet by the matters whereof you
shall hear in my story we may at least be incited to take delight in
doing good offices, in the hope that sooner or later we may come by our
reward thereof.

I say, then, that in the time of the Emperor Frederic I., as certain
writers affirm, the Christians made common emprise for the recovery of
the Holy Land. Whereof that most valiant prince, Saladin, then Soldan of
Babylonia, being in good time apprised, resolved to see for himself the
preparations made by the Christian potentates for the said emprise, that
he might put himself in better trim to meet them. So, having ordered all
things to his mind in Egypt, he made as if he were bound on a pilgrimage,
and attended only by two of his chiefest and sagest lords, and three
servants, took the road in the guise of a merchant. And having surveyed
many provinces of Christendom, as they rode through Lombardy with intent
to cross the Alps, they chanced, between Milan and Pavia, to fall in with
a gentleman, one Messer Torello d'Istria da Pavia, who with his servants
and his dogs and falcons was betaking him to a fine estate that he had on
the Ticino, there to tarry a while. Now Messer Torello no sooner espied
Saladin and his lords than he guessed them to be gentlemen and
foreigners; and, being zealous to do them honour, when Saladin asked one
of his servants how far off Pavia might still be, and if he might win
there in time to enter the town, he suffered not the servant to make
answer, but:--"No, gentlemen," quoth he, "by the time you reach Pavia
'twill be too late for you to enter." "So!" replied Saladin, "then might
you be pleased to direct us, as we are strangers, where we may best be
lodged?" "That gladly will I," returned Messer Torello. "I was but now
thinking to send one of these my men on an errand to Pavia; I will send
him with you, and he will guide you to a place where you will find very
comfortable quarters." Then, turning to one of his most trusty servants,
he gave him his instructions, and despatched him with them: after which,
he repaired to his estate, and forthwith, as best he might, caused a
goodly supper to be made ready, and the tables set in his garden; which
done, he stationed himself at the gate on the look-out for his guests.

The servant, conversing with the gentlemen of divers matters, brought
them by devious roads to his lord's estate without their being ware of
it. Whom as soon as Messer Torello espied, he came forth afoot to meet
them, and said with a smile:--"A hearty welcome to you, gentlemen." Now
Saladin, being very quick of apprehension, perceived that the knight had
doubted, when he met them, that, were he to bid them to his house, they
might not accept his hospitality; and accordingly, that it might not be
in their power to decline it, had brought them to his house by a ruse.
And so, returning his greeting:--"Sir," quoth he, "were it meet to find
fault with those that shew courtesy, we should have a grievance against
you, for that, to say nought of somewhat delaying our journey, you have
in guerdon of a single greeting constrained us to accept so noble a
courtesy as yours." Whereto the knight, who was of good understanding and
well-spoken, made answer:--"Gentlemen, such courtesy as we shew you will,
in comparison of that which, by what I gather from your aspect, were meet
for you, prove but a sorry thing; but in sooth this side of Pavia you
might not anywhere have been well lodged; wherefore take it not amiss
that you have come somewhat out of your way to find less discomfortable
quarters." And as he spoke, about them flocked the servants, who, having
helped them to dismount, saw to their horses; whereupon Messer Torello
conducted them to the chambers that were made ready for them, where,
having caused them to be relieved of their boots, and refreshed with the
coolest of wines, he held pleasant converse with them until supper-time.
Saladin and his lords and servants all knew Latin, so that they both
understood and made themselves understood very well, and there was none
of them but adjudged this knight to be the most agreeable and debonair
man, and therewithal the best talker, that he had ever seen; while to
Messer Torello, on the other hand, they shewed as far greater magnificoes
than he had at first supposed, whereby he was inly vexed that he had not
been able that evening to do them the honours of company, and a more
ceremonious banquet. For which default he resolved to make amends on the
ensuing morning: wherefore, having imparted to one of his servants that
which he would have done, he sent him to his most judicious and
highminded lady at Pavia, which was close by, and where never a gate was
locked. Which done, he brought the gentlemen into the garden, and
courteously asked them who they were. "We are Cypriote merchants,"
replied Saladin, "and 'tis from Cyprus we come, and we are on our way to
Paris on business." Quoth then Messer Torello:--"Would to God that our
country bred gentlemen of such a quality as are the merchants that I see
Cyprus breeds!" From which they passed to discourse of other matters,
until, supper-time being come, he besought them to seat them at table;
whereat, considering that the supper was but improvised, their
entertainment was excellent and well-ordered.

The tables being cleared, Messer Torello, surmising that they must be
weary, kept them no long time from their rest, but bestowed them in most
comfortable beds, and soon after went to rest himself. Meanwhile the
servant that he had sent to Pavia did his lord's errand to the lady, who,
in the style rather of a queen than of a housewife, forthwith assembled
not a few of Messer Torello's friends and vassals, and caused all meet
preparation to be made for a magnificent banquet, and by messengers
bearing torches bade not a few of the noblest of the citizens thereto;
and had store of silken and other fabrics and vair brought in, and all
set in order in every point as her husband had directed. Day came, and
the gentlemen being risen, Messer Torello got him to horse with them, and
having sent for his hawks, brought them to a ford, and shewed them how
the hawks flew. By and by, Saladin requesting of him a guide to the best
inn at Pavia:--"I myself will be your guide," returned Messer Torello,
"for I have occasion to go thither." Which offer they, nothing doubting,
did gladly accept, and so with him they set forth; and about tierce,
being come to the city, and expecting to be directed to the best inn,
they were brought by Messer Torello, to his own house, where they were
forthwith surrounded by full fifty of the greatest folk of the city,
gathered there to give the gentlemen a welcome; and 'twas who should hold
a bridle or a stirrup, while they dismounted. Whereby Saladin and his
lords more than guessing the truth:--"Messer Torello," quoth they, "'twas
not this that we craved of you. Honour enough had we from you last night,
and far in excess of our desires; wherefore thou mightst very well have
left us to go our own road." Whereto:--"Gentlemen," replied Messer
Torello, "for that which was done yestereve I have to thank Fortune
rather than you: seeing that Fortune surprised you on the road at an hour
when you must needs repair to my little house: for that which shall be
done this morning I shall be beholden to you, as will also these
gentlemen that surround you, with whom, if you deem it courteous so to
do, you may refuse to breakfast, if you like."

Fairly conquered, Saladin and his lords dismounted, and heartily welcomed
by the gentlemen, were conducted to the chambers which had been most
sumptuously adorned for their use; and having laid aside their riding
dress, and taken some refreshment, repaired to the saloon, where all had
been made ready with splendour. There, having washed their hands, they
sat them down to table, and were regaled with a magnificent repast of
many courses, served with all stately and fair ceremony, insomuch that,
had the Emperor himself been there, 'twould not have been possible to do
him more honour. And albeit Saladin and his lords were grandees and used
to exceeding great displays of pomp and state, nevertheless this shewed
to them as not a little marvellous, and one of the greatest they had ever
seen, having regard to the quality of their host, whom they knew to be
but a citizen, and no lord. Breakfast done, and the tables cleared, they
conversed a while of high matters, and then, as 'twas very hot, all the
gentlemen of Pavia--so it pleased Messer Torello--retired for their
siesta, while he remained with his three guests; with whom he presently
withdrew into a chamber, whither, that there might be nought that he held
dear which they had not seen, he called his noble lady. And so the dame,
exceeding fair and stately of person, and arrayed in rich apparel, with
her two little boys, that shewed as two angels, on either hand, presented
herself before them, and graciously greeted them. Whereupon they rose,
and returned her salutation with reverence, and caused her to sit down
among them, and made much of her two little boys. But after some
interchange of gracious discourse, Messer Torello being withdrawn
somewhat apart, she asked them courteously, whence they came and whither
they were bound, and had of them the same answer that Messer Torello had
received. "So!" quoth the lady with a joyful air, "then I see that my
woman's wit will be of service to you; wherefore I pray you as a special
favour neither to reject nor to despise the little gift that I am about
to present to you; but reflecting that, as women have but small minds, so
they make but small gifts, accept it, having regard rather to the good
will of the giver than the magnitude of the gift." She then caused bring
forth for each of them two pair of robes, lined the one with silk, the
other with vair, no such robes as citizens or merchants, but such as
lords, use to wear, and three vests of taffeta, besides linen clothes,
and:--"Take them," quoth she. "The robes I give you are even such as I
have arrayed my lord withal: the other things, considering that you are
far from your wives, and have come a long way, and have yet a long way to
go, and that merchants love to be neat and trim, may, albeit they are of
no great value, be yet acceptable to you."

Wondering, the gentlemen acknowledged without reserve that there was no
point of courtesy wherein Messer Torello was not minded to acquit himself
towards them. And noting the lordly fashion of the robes, unsuited to the
quality of merchants, they misdoubted that Messer Torello had recognized
them. However, quoth one of them to the lady:--"Gifts great indeed are
these, Madam, nor such as lightly to accept, were it not that thereto we
are constrained by your prayers, to which we may on no account say, no."
Whereupon, Messer Torello being now come back, the lady bade them adieu,
and took her leave of them; and in like manner did she cause their
servants to be supplied with equipment suitable to them. The gentlemen,
being much importuned thereto by Messer Torello, consented to tarry the
rest of the day with him; and so, having slept, they donned their robes,
and rode a while with him about the city; and supper-time being come,
they feasted magnificently, and with a numerous and honourable company.
And so in due time they betook them to rest; and at daybreak, being
risen, they found, in lieu of their jaded nags, three stout and excellent
palfreys, and in like manner fresh and goodly mounts for their servants.
Which Saladin marking turned to his lords, and:--"By God," quoth he,
"never was gentleman more complete and courteous and considerate than
this Messer Torello, and if the Christian kings are as kingly as he is
knightly, there is none of them whose onset the Soldan of Babylon might
well abide, to say nought of so many as we see making ready to fall upon
him." However, knowing that 'twas not permissible to refuse, he very
courteously thanked Messer Torello: and so they got them to horse. Messer
Torello with a numerous company escorted them far beyond the gate of the
city, until, loath though Saladin was to part from him, so greatly did he
now affect him, yet as he must needs speed on, he besought him to turn
back. Whereupon, albeit it irked him to take leave of them:--"Gentlemen,"
quoth Messer Torello, "since such is your pleasure, I obey; but this I
must say to you. Who you are I know not, nor would I know more than you
are pleased to impart; but whoever you may be, you will not make me
believe that you are merchants this while; and so adieu!" To whom
Saladin, having already taken leave of all his company, thus made
answer:--"Peradventure, Sir, we shall one day give you to see somewhat of
our merchandise, and thereby confirm your belief: and so adieu!"

Thus parted Saladin and his company from Messer Torello, Saladin burning
with an exceeding great desire, if life should be continued to him, and
the war, which he anticipated, should not undo him, to shew Messer
Torello no less honour than he had received at his hands, and conversing
not a little with his lords both of Messer Torello himself and of his
lady, and all that he did and that in any wise concerned him, ever more
highly commending them. However, having with much diligence spied out all
the West, he put to sea, and returned with his company to Alexandria; and
having now all needful information, he put himself in a posture of
defence. Messer Torello, his mind full of his late guests, returned to
Pavia; but, though he long pondered who they might be, he came never at
or anywhere near the truth.

Then with great and general mustering of forces came the time for
embarking on the emprise, and Messer Torello, heeding not the tearful
entreaties of his wife, resolved to join therein. So, being fully
equipped and about to take horse, he said to his lady, whom he most
dearly loved:--"Wife, for honour's sake and for the weal of my soul, I
go, as thou seest, on this emprise: our substance and our honour I
commend to thy care. Certain I am of my departure, but, for the thousand
accidents that may ensue, certitude have I none of my return: wherefore I
would have thee do me this grace, that, whatever be my fate, shouldst
thou lack certain intelligence that I live, thou wilt expect me a year
and a month and a day from this my departure, before thou marry again."
Whereto the lady, weeping bitterly, made answer:--"Messer Torello, I know
not how I shall support the distress in which, thus departing, you leave
me; but should my life not fail beneath it, and aught befall thee, live
and die secure that I shall live and die the wife of Messer Torello, and
of his memory." Whereupon:--"Wife," returned Messer Torello, "well
assured I am that, so far as in thee shall lie, this promise of thine
will be kept; but thou art young, and fair, and of a great family, and
thy virtue is rare and generally known: wherefore I make no doubt that,
should there be any suspicion of my death, thou wilt be asked of thy
brothers and kinsmen by many a great gentleman: against whose attacks,
though thou desire it never so, thou wilt not be able to hold out, but
wilt perforce be fain to gratify one or other of them; for which cause it
is that I ask thee to wait just so long and no longer." "As I have said,"
replied the lady, "so, in so far as I may, I shall do; and if I must
needs do otherwise, rest assured that of this your behest I shall render
you obedience. But I pray God that He bring neither you nor me to such a
strait yet a while." Which said, the lady wept, and having embraced
Messer Torello, drew from her finger a ring, and gave it to him,
saying:--"Should it betide that I die before I see you again, mind you of
me, when you look upon it."

Messer Torello took the ring, and got him to horse, and having bidden all
adieu, fared forth on his journey; and being arrived with his company at
Genoa, he embarked on a galley, and having departed thence, in no long
time arrived at Acre, and joined the main Christian host; wherein there
by and by broke out an exceeding great and mortal sickness; during which,
whether owing to Saladin's strategy, or his good fortune, he made an easy
capture of well-nigh all the remnant of the Christians that were escaped,
and quartered them in divers prisons in many cities; of which captives
Messer Torello being one, was brought to Alexandria and there confined.
Where, not being known, and fearing to make himself known, he, under
constraint of necessity, applied him to the training of hawks, whereof he
was a very great master; and thereby he fell under the notice of Saladin,
who took him out of the prison, and made him his falconer. The Soldan
called him by no other name than "Christian," and neither recognized, nor
was recognized by, him, who, his whole soul ever in Pavia, essayed many a
time to escape, that he might return thither, but still without success:
wherefore, certain Genoese, that were come to Alexandria as ambassadors
to the Soldan for the redemption of some of their townsfolk, being about
to return, he resolved to write to his lady, how that he lived, and would
come back to her, as soon as he might, and that she should expect his
return; and having so done, he earnestly besought one of the ambassadors,
whom he knew, to see that the letter reached the hands of the Abbot of
San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, who was his uncle.

Now, such being the posture of Messer Torello's affairs, it befell one
day that, while he talked with Saladin of his hawks, he smiled; whereby
his mouth shaped itself in a fashion, of which Saladin had taken
particular note, while he was at Pavia. And so, recalling Messer Torello
to mind, he fixed his gaze upon him, and it seemed to him that 'twas
indeed Messer Torello; wherefore, leaving the matter of which they were
conversing:--"Tell me, Christian," quoth he, "of what country art thou in
the West?" "My lord," replied Messer Torello, "I am a Lombard, of a city
called Pavia, a poor man, and of humble condition." Which when he heard,
Saladin, well-nigh resolved of his doubt, said joyfully to himself:--"God
has provided me with occasion meet to prove to this man what store I set
by his courtesy;" and without another word he brought him into a room
where he kept all his wearing apparel, and said:--"Look, Christian, if
among these robes there be any that thou hast ever seen before." So
Messer Torello examined the robes, and espied those which his lady had
given to Saladin; but, deeming they could not be the same, he
replied:--"My lord, there is no robe here that I recognize, albeit 'tis
true that those two robes are such as I once wore myself, in company with
three merchants that came to my house." Whereupon Saladin could refrain
himself no longer; but, tenderly embracing him:--"You," quoth he, "are
Messer Torello d'Istria, and I am one of those three merchants to whom
your lady gave these robes; and now is the time to warrant you of the
quality of my merchandise, as, when I parted from you, I told you might
come to pass." Which to hear, Messer Torello was at once overjoyed and
abashed, overjoyed to have entertained so illustrious a guest, and
abashed, for that it seemed to him that he had given him but a sorry
entertainment. To whom:--"Messer Torello," quoth Saladin, "since hither
has God sent you to me, deem that 'tis no more I that am lord here, but
you." And so they made great cheer together; and then Saladin caused
Messer Torello to be royally arrayed; and presented him to all his
greatest lords, and having extolled his merit in no stinted measure, bade
all, as they hoped for grace from him, honour Messer Torello even as
himself. And so from that hour did they all; but most especially the two
lords that had been with Saladin at Messer Torello's house.

The glory, to which Messer Torello thus suddenly found himself raised,
somewhat diverted his mind from the affairs of Lombardy, and the more so,
for that he entertained no doubt that his letter had reached his uncle's
hands. But for that in the camp, or rather army, of the Christians, on
the day when they were taken by Saladin, there died and was buried one
Messer Torello de Dignes, an obscure knight of Provence, whereas Messer
Torello d'Istria was known to all the host for a right noble gentleman,
whoso heard tell that Messer Torello was dead, supposed that 'twas Messer
Torello d'Istria, and not Messer Torello de Dignes; nor did what happened
after, to wit, the capture, avail to undeceive them; for not a few
Italians had carried the report home with them; among whom there were
some who made bold to say that they had seen Messer Torello d'Istria's
dead body, and had been present at its interment. Which rumour coming to
the ears of his lady and his kinsfolk, great indeed, nay, immeasurable
was the distress that it occasioned not only to them, but to all that had
known him. The mode and measure of his lady's grief, her mourning, her
lamentation, 'twere tedious to describe. Enough that, after some months
spent in almost unmitigated tribulation, her sorrow shewed signs of
abatement; whereupon, suit being made for her hand by some of the
greatest men of Lombardy, her brothers and other kinsfolk began to
importune her to marry again. Times not a few, and with floods of tears,
she refused; but, overborne at last, she consented to do as they would
have her, upon the understanding that she was to remain unmarried until
the term for which she had bound herself to Messer Torello was fulfilled.

Now the lady's affairs being in this posture at Pavia, it befell that
some eight days or so before the time appointed for her marriage, Messer
Torello one day espied in Alexandria one that he had observed go with the
Genoese ambassadors aboard the galley that took them to Genoa; wherefore
he called him, and asked him what sort of a voyage they had had, and when
they had reached Genoa. "My lord," replied the other, "the galley made
but a sorry voyage of it, as I learned in Crete, where I remained; for
that, while she was nearing Sicily, there arose a terrible gale from the
North that drove her on to the shoals of Barbary, and never a soul
escaped, and among the rest my two brothers were lost." Which report
believing--and 'twas indeed most true--and calling to mind that in a few
days the term that he had asked of his wife would be fulfilled, and
surmising that there could be no tidings of him at Pavia, Messer Torello
made no question but that the lady was provided with another husband;
whereby he sank into such a depth of woe that he lost all power to eat,
and betook him to his bed and resigned himself to die. Which when
Saladin, by whom he was most dearly beloved, learned, he came to him, and
having plied him with many and most instant entreaties, learned at length
the cause of his distress and sickness; and, having chidden him not a
little that he had not sooner apprised him thereof, he besought him to
put on a cheerful courage, assuring him, that, if so he did, he would
bring it to pass that he should be in Pavia at the time appointed, and
told him how. Believing Saladin's words the more readily that he had many
times heard that 'twas possible, and had not seldom been done, Messer
Torello recovered heart, and was instant with Saladin that he should make
all haste.

Accordingly Saladin bade one of his necromancers, of whose skill he had
already had proof, to devise a method whereby Messer Torello should be
transported abed in a single night to Pavia: the necromancer made answer
that it should be done, but that 'twere best he put Messer Torello to
sleep. The matter being thus arranged, Saladin hied him back to Messer
Torello, and finding him most earnestly desirous to be in Pavia at the
time appointed, if so it might be, and if not, to die:--"Messer Torello,"
quoth he, "if you dearly love your lady, and misdoubt that she may become
the bride of another, no wise, God wot, do I censure you, for that, of
all the ladies that ever I saw, she, for bearing, manners, and
address--to say nought of beauty, which is but the flower that
perishes--seems to me the most worthy to be lauded and cherished. Much
had I been gratified, since Fortune has sent you hither to me, that,
while you and I yet live, we had exercised equal lordship in the
governance of this my realm, and, if such was not God's will, and this
must needs come upon you, that you are fain either to be at Pavia at the
time appointed or to die, I had desired of all things to have been
apprised thereof at such a time that I might have sent you home with such
honourable circumstance and state and escort as befit your high desert;
which not being vouchsafed me, and as nought will content you but to be
there forthwith, I do what I can, and speed you thither on such wise as I
have told you." "My lord," replied Messer Torello, "had you said nought,
you have already done enough to prove your goodwill towards me, and that
in so high a degree as is quite beyond my deserts, and most assured of
the truth of what you say shall I live and die, and so had done, had you
not said it; but, seeing that my resolve is taken, I pray you that that,
which you promise to do, be done speedily, for that after to-morrow I may
no longer count on being expected."

Saladin assured him that 'twas so ordered that he should not be
disappointed. And on the morrow, it being his purpose to speed him on his
journey that same night, he caused to be set up in one of his great halls
a most goodly and sumptuous bed composed of mattresses, all, as was their
wont, of velvet and cloth of gold, and had it covered with a quilt,
adorned at certain intervals with enormous pearls, and most rare precious
stones, insomuch that 'twas in after time accounted a priceless treasure,
and furnished with two pillows to match it. Which done, he bade array
Messer Torello, who was now quite recovered, in a robe after the
Saracenic fashion, the richest and goodliest thing of the kind that was
ever seen, and wrap about his head, according to their wont, one of their
huge turbans. Then, at a late hour, Saladin, attended by certain of his
lords, entered the chamber where Messer Torello was, and seating himself
beside him, all but wept as thus he began:--"Messer Torello, the time is
nigh at hand when you and I must part; wherefore, since I may neither
give you my own, nor others' company (the journey that you are about to
make not permitting it), I am come here, as 'tis fitting, in this chamber
to take my leave of you. Wherefore, before I bid you adieu, I entreat
you, by that friendship, that love, which is between us, that you forget
me not, and that, if it be possible, when you have settled your affairs
in Lombardy, you come at least once, before our days are ended, to visit
me, that thereby I may both have the delight of seeing you again, and
make good that omission which, by reason of your haste, I must needs now
make; and that in the meanwhile it irk thee not to visit me by letter,
and to ask of me whatever you shall have a mind to, and be sure that
there lives not the man whom I shall content more gladly than you."
Messer Torello could not refrain his tears, and so, with words few, and
broken by his sobs, he answered that 'twas impossible that the Soldan's
generous deeds and chivalrous character should ever be forgotten by him,
and that without fail he would do as he bade him, so soon as occasion
should serve him. Whereupon Saladin tenderly embraced and kissed him, and
with many a tear bade him adieu, and quitted the chamber. His lords then
took leave of Messer Torello, and followed Saladin into the hall, where
he had had the bed made ready.

'Twas now late, and the necromancer being intent to hasten Messer
Torello's transit, a physician brought him a potion, and having first
shewn him what he was to give him by way of viaticum, caused him to drink
it; and not long after he fell asleep. In which state he was carried by
Saladin's command, and laid on the goodly bed, whereon he set a large and
fair and most sumptuous crown, marking it in such sort that there could
be no mistake that it was sent by Saladin to Messer Torello's wife. He
next placed on Messer Torello's finger a ring, in which was set a
carbuncle of such brilliance that it shewed as a lighted torch, and of
well-nigh inestimable value. After which he girded on him a sword, the
appointments of which might not readily be appraised. And therewithal he
adorned him in front with a pendant, wherein were pearls, the like of
which had never been seen, and not a few other rare jewels. And,
moreover, on either side of him he set two vast basins of gold full of
pistoles; and strings of pearls not a few, and rings and girdles, and
other things, which 'twere tedious to enumerate, he disposed around him.
Which done, he kissed Messer Torello again, and bade the necromancer
speed him on his journey. Whereupon, forthwith, the bed, with Messer
Torello thereon, was borne away from before Saladin's eyes, and he and
his barons remained conversing thereof.

The bed, as Messer Torello had requested, had already been deposited in
the church of San Piero in Ciel d'Oro at Pavia, and Messer Torello, with
all the aforesaid jewels and ornaments upon and about him, was lying
thereon, and still slept, when, upon the stroke of matins, the sacristan
came into the church, light in hand, and presently setting eyes on the
sumptuous bed, was not only amazed, but mightily terrified, insomuch that
he turned back, and took to flight. Which the abbot and monks observing
with no small surprise, asked wherefore he fled and he told them.
Whereupon:--"Oh," quoth the abbot, "thou art no longer a child, nor yet
so new to this church, that thou shouldst so lightly be appalled: go we
now, and see who it is that has given thee this childish fright." So,
with a blaze of torches, the abbot, attended by his monks, entered the
church, and espied this wondrous costly bed whereon the knight slept, and
while, hesitant and fearful, daring not to approach the bed, they scanned
the rare and splendid jewels, it befell that, the efficacy of the potion
being exhausted, Messer Torello awoke and heaved a great sigh. Whereat
the monks and the abbot quaking and crying out:--"Lord, help us!" one and
all took to flight. Messer Torello, opening his eyes and looking about
him, saw, to his no small satisfaction, that without a doubt he was in
the very place where he had craved of Saladin to be; so up he sate, and
taking particular note of the matters with which he was surrounded,
accounted the magnificence of Saladin to exceed even the measure, great
though it was, that he already knew. However, he still kept quiet, save
that, perceiving the monks in flight, and surmising the reason, he began
to call the abbot by name, bidding him be of good courage, for that he
was his nephew, Torello. Whereat the abbot did but wax more terrified,
for that he deemed Torello had been many a month dead; but, after a
while, as he heard himself still called, sound judgment got the better of
his fears, and making the sign of the cross, he drew nigh Torello; who
said to him:--"Father, what is't you fear? By God's grace I live, and
hither am come back from overseas." Whom, for all he had grown a long
beard and was dressed in the Saracenic fashion, the abbot after a while
recognized, and now, quite reassured, took by the hand, saying:--"Son,
welcome home:" then:--"No cause hast thou to marvel at our fears," he
went on, "seeing that there is never a soul in these parts but firmly
believes thee to be dead, insomuch that I may tell thee that Madonna
Adalieta, thy wife, overborne by the entreaties and menaces of her
kinsfolk, and against her will, is provided with another husband, to whom
she is this morning to go, and all is made ready for the nuptials and the
attendant festivities."

Whereupon Messer Torello, being risen from the sumptuous bed, did the
abbot and the monks wondrous cheer, and besought them, one and all, to
tell never a soul of his return, until he had completed something that he
had on hand. After which, having put the costly jewels in safe keeping,
he recounted to the abbot all the story of his adventures to that very
hour. The abbot, rejoicing in his good fortune, joined with him in
offering thanks to God. Messer Torello then asked him who might be his
wife's new husband, and the abbot told him. Quoth then Messer
Torello:--"Before my return be known, I purpose to see how my wife will
comport herself at the nuptials: wherefore, though 'tis not the wont of
men of religion to go to such gatherings, I had lief that for love of me
you arranged for us to go thither together." The abbot answered that, he
would gladly do so, and as soon as 'twas day, he sent word to the
bridegroom that he had thoughts of being present at his nuptials,
accompanied by a friend; whereto the gentleman made answer that he was
much gratified. So, at the breakfast hour Messer Torello, dressed as he
was, hied him with the abbot to the bridegroom's house, as many as saw
them gazing on him with wonder, but none recognizing him, and the abbot
giving all to understand that he was a Saracen sent by the Soldan as
ambassador to the King of France. Messer Torello was accordingly seated
at a table directly opposite that of his lady, whom he eyed with
exceeding great delight, the more so that he saw that in her face which
shewed him that she was chagrined by the nuptials. She in like manner
from time to time bent her regard on him; howbeit, what with his long
beard, and his foreign garb, and her firm persuasion that he was dead,
she had still no sort of recollection of him. However, Messer Torello at
length deemed it time to make trial of her, whether she would remember
him; wherefore he took the ring that the lady had given, him on his
departure, and keeping it close in the palm of his hand, he called to him
a page that waited upon her, and said to him:--"Tell the bride from me
that 'tis the custom in my country, that, when a stranger, such as I,
eats with a bride, like herself, at her wedding-feast, she, in token that
he is welcome to her board, sends him the cup from which she herself
drinks, full of wine; and when the stranger has drunk his fill, he closes
the cup, and the bride drinks what is left therein."

The page carried the message to the lady, who, being of good
understanding and manners, and supposing him to be some very great man,
by way of shewing that she was gratified by his presence, commanded that
a gilt cup, that was on the table before her, should be rinsed, and
filled with wine, and borne to the gentleman. Which being done, Messer
Torello, having privily conveyed her ring into his mouth, let it fall
(while he drank) into the cup on such wise that none wist thereof; and
leaving but a little wine at the bottom, closed the cup and returned it
to the lady; who, having taken it, that she might do full honour to the
custom of her guest's country, lifted the lid, and set the cup to her
mouth; whereby espying the ring, she thereon mutely gazed a while, and
recognizing it for that which she had given Messer Torello on his
departure, she steadfastly regarded the supposed stranger, whom now she
also recognized. Whereupon well-nigh distracted, oversetting the table in
front of her, she exclaimed:--"'Tis my lord, 'tis verily Messer Torello;"
and rushing to the table at which he sate, giving never a thought to her
apparel, or aught that was on the table, she flung herself upon it; and
reaching forward as far as she could, she threw her arms about him, and
hugged him; nor, for aught that any said or did, could she be induced to
release his neck, until Messer Torello himself bade her forbear a while,
for that she would have time enough to kiss him thereafter. The lady then
stood up, and for a while all was disorder, albeit the feast was yet more
gladsome than before by reason of the recovery of so honourable a knight:
then, at Messer Torello's entreaty, all were silent, while he recounted
to them the story of his adventures from the day of his departure to that
hour, concluding by saying that the gentleman who, deeming him to be
dead, had taken his lady to wife, ought not to be affronted, if he, being
alive, reclaimed her. The bridegroom, albeit he was somewhat crestfallen,
made answer in frank and friendly sort, that 'twas for Messer Torello to
do what he liked with his own. The lady resigned the ring and the crown
that her new spouse had given her, and put on the ring she had taken from
the cup, and likewise the crown sent her by the Soldan; and so, forth
they hied them, and with full nuptial pomp wended their way to Messer
Torello's house; and there for a great while they made merry with his
late disconsolate friends and kinsfolk and all the citizens, who
accounted his restoration as little short of a miracle.

Messer Torello, having bestowed part of his rare jewels upon him who had
borne the cost of the wedding-feast, and part on the abbot, and many
other folk; and having by more than one messenger sent word of his safe
home-coming and prosperous estate to Saladin, acknowledging himself ever
his friend and vassal, lived many years thereafter with his worthy lady,
acquitting himself yet more courteously than of yore. Such, then, was the
end of the troubles of Messer Torello and his dear lady, and such the
reward of their cheerful and ready courtesies.

Now some there are that strive to do offices of courtesy, and have the
means, but do them with so ill a grace, that, ere they are done, they
have in effect sold them at a price above their worth: wherefore, if no
reward ensue to them thereof, neither they nor other folk have cause to


The Marquis of Saluzzo, overborne by the entreaties of his vassals,
consents to take a wife, but, being minded to please himself in the
choice of her, takes a husbandman's daughter. He has two children by her,
both of whom he makes her believe that he has put to death. Afterward,
feigning to be tired of her, and to have taken another wife, he turns her
out of doors in her shift, and brings his daughter into the house in
guise of his bride; but, finding her patient under it all, he brings her
home again, and shews her her children, now grown up, and honours her,
and causes her to be honoured, as Marchioness.

Ended the king's long story, with which all seemed to be very well
pleased, quoth Dioneo with a laugh:--"The good man that looked that night
to cause the bogey's tail to droop, would scarce have contributed two
pennyworth of all the praise you bestow on Messer Torello:" then, witting
that it now only remained for him to tell, thus he began:--Gentle my
ladies, this day, meseems, is dedicate to Kings and Soldans and folk of
the like quality; wherefore, that I stray not too far from you, I am
minded to tell you somewhat of a Marquis; certes, nought magnificent, but
a piece of mad folly, albeit there came good thereof to him in the end.
The which I counsel none to copy, for that great pity 'twas that it
turned out well with him.

There was in olden days a certain Marquis of Saluzzo, Gualtieri by name,
a young man, but head of the house, who, having neither wife nor child,
passed his time in nought else but in hawking and hunting, and of taking
a wife and begetting children had no thought; wherein he should have been
accounted very wise: but his vassals, brooking it ill, did oftentimes
entreat him to take a wife, that he might not die without an heir, and
they be left without a lord; offering to find him one of such a pattern,
and of such parentage, that he might marry with good hope, and be well
content with the sequel. To whom:--"My friends," replied Gualtieri, "you
enforce me to that which I had resolved never to do, seeing how hard it
is to find a wife, whose ways accord well with one's own, and how
plentiful is the supply of such as run counter thereto, and how grievous
a life he leads who chances upon a lady that matches ill with him. And to
say that you think to know the daughters by the qualities of their
fathers and mothers, and thereby--so you would argue--to provide me with
a wife to my liking, is but folly; for I wot not how you may penetrate
the secrets of their mothers so as to know their fathers; and granted
that you do know them, daughters oftentimes resemble neither of their
parents. However, as you are minded to rivet these fetters upon me, I am
content that so it be; and that I may have no cause to reproach any but
myself, should it turn out ill, I am resolved that my wife shall be of my
own choosing; but of this rest assured, that, no matter whom I choose, if
she receive not from you the honour due to a lady, you shall prove to
your great cost, how sorely I resent being thus constrained by your
importunity to take a wife against my will."

The worthy men replied that they were well content, so only he would
marry without more ado. And Gualtieri, who had long noted with approval
the mien of a poor girl that dwelt on a farm hard by his house, and found
her fair enough, deemed that with her he might pass a tolerably happy
life. Wherefore he sought no further, but forthwith resolved to marry
her; and having sent for her father, who was a very poor man, he
contracted with him to take her to wife. Which done, Gualtieri assembled
all the friends he had in those parts, and:--"My friends," quoth he, "you
were and are minded that I should take a wife, and rather to comply with
your wishes, than for any desire that I had to marry, I have made up my
mind to do so. You remember the promise you gave me, to wit, that,
whomsoever I should take, you would pay her the honour due to a lady.
Which promise I now require you to keep, the time being come when I am to
keep mine. I have found hard by here a maiden after mine own heart, whom
I purpose to take to wife, and to bring hither to my house in the course
of a few days. Wherefore bethink you, how you may make the nuptial feast
splendid, and welcome her with all honour; that I may confess myself
satisfied with your observance of your promise, as you will be with my
observance of mine." The worthy men, one and all, answered with alacrity
that they were well content, and that, whoever she might be, they would
entreat her as a lady, and pay her all due honour as such. After which,
they all addressed them to make goodly and grand and gladsome celebration
of the event, as did also Gualtieri. He arranged for a wedding most
stately and fair, and bade thereto a goodly number of his friends and
kinsfolk, and great gentlemen, and others, of the neighbourhood; and
therewithal he caused many a fine and costly robe to be cut and fashioned
to the figure of a girl who seemed to him of the like proportions as the
girl that he purposed to wed; and laid in store, besides, of girdles and
rings, with a costly and beautiful crown, and all the other paraphernalia
of a bride.

The day that he had appointed for the wedding being come, about half
tierce he got him to horse with as many as had come to do him honour, and
having made all needful dispositions:--"Gentlemen," quoth he, "'tis time
to go bring home the bride." And so away he rode with his company to the
village; where, being come to the house of the girl's father, they found
her returning from the spring with a bucket of water, making all the
haste she could, that she might afterwards go with the other women to see
Gualtieri's bride come by. Whom Gualtieri no sooner saw, than he called
her by her name, to wit, Griselda, and asked her where her father was. To
whom she modestly made answer:--"My lord, he is in the house." Whereupon
Gualtieri dismounted, and having bidden the rest await him without,
entered the cottage alone; and meeting her father, whose name was
Giannucolo:--"I am come," quoth he, "to wed Griselda, but first of all
there are some matters I would learn from her own lips in thy presence."
He then asked her, whether, if he took her to wife, she would study to
comply with his wishes, and be not wroth, no matter what he might say or
do, and be obedient, with not a few other questions of a like sort: to
all which she answered, ay. Whereupon Gualtieri took her by the hand, led
her forth, and before the eyes of all his company, and as many other folk
as were there, caused her to strip naked, and let bring the garments that
he had had fashioned for her, and had her forthwith arrayed therein, and
upon her unkempt head let set a crown; and then, while all
wondered:--"Gentlemen," quoth he, "this is she whom I purpose to make my
wife, so she be minded to have me for husband." Then, she standing
abashed and astonied, he turned to her, saying:--"Griselda, wilt thou
have me for thy husband?" To whom:--"Ay, my lord," answered she. "And I
will have thee to wife," said he, and married her before them all. And
having set her upon a palfrey, he brought her home with pomp.

The wedding was fair and stately, and had he married a daughter of the
King of France, the feast could not have been more splendid. It seemed as
if, with the change of her garb, the bride had acquired a new dignity of
mind and mien. She was, as we have said, fair of form and feature; and
therewithal she was now grown so engaging and gracious and debonair, that
she shewed no longer as the shepherdess, and the daughter of Giannucolo,
but as the daughter of some noble lord, insomuch that she caused as many
as had known her before to marvel. Moreover, she was so obedient and
devoted to her husband, that he deemed himself the happiest and luckiest
man in the world. And likewise so gracious and kindly was she to her
husband's vassals, that there was none of them but loved her more dearly
than himself, and was zealous to do her honour, and prayed for her
welfare and prosperity and aggrandisement, and instead of, as erstwhile,
saying that Gualtieri had done foolishly to take her to wife, now averred
that he had not his like in the world for wisdom and discernment, for
that, save to him, her noble qualities would ever have remained hidden
under her sorry apparel and the garb of the peasant girl. And in short
she so comported herself as in no long time to bring it to pass that, not
only in the marquisate, but far and wide besides, her virtues and her
admirable conversation were matter of common talk, and, if aught had been
said to the disadvantage of her husband, when he married her, the
judgment was now altogether to the contrary effect.

She had not been long with Gualtieri before she conceived; and in due
time she was delivered of a girl; whereat Gualtieri made great cheer.
But, soon after, a strange humour took possession of him, to wit, to put
her patience to the proof by prolonged and intolerable hard usage;
wherefore he began by afflicting her with his gibes, putting on a vexed
air, and telling her that his vassals were most sorely dissatisfied with
her by reason of her base condition, and all the more so since they saw
that she was a mother, and that they did nought but most ruefully murmur
at the birth of a daughter. Whereto Griselda, without the least change of
countenance or sign of discomposure, made answer:--"My lord, do with me
as thou mayst deem best for thine own honour and comfort, for well I wot
that I am of less account than they, and unworthy of this honourable
estate to which of thy courtesy thou hast advanced me." By which answer
Gualtieri was well pleased, witting that she was in no degree puffed up
with pride by his, or any other's, honourable entreatment of her. A while
afterwards, having in general terms given his wife to understand that the
vassals could not endure her daughter, he sent her a message by a
servant. So the servant came, and:--"Madam," quoth he with a most
dolorous mien, "so I value my life, I must needs do my lord's bidding. He
has bidden me take your daughter and..." He said no more, but the lady by
what she heard, and read in his face, and remembered of her husband's
words, understood that he was bidden to put the child to death. Whereupon
she presently took the child from the cradle, and having kissed and
blessed her, albeit she was very sore at heart, she changed not
countenance, but placed it in the servant's arms, saying:--"See that thou
leave nought undone that my lord and thine has charged thee to do, but
leave her not so that the beasts and the birds devour her, unless he have
so bidden thee." So the servant took the child, and told Gualtieri what
the lady had said; and Gualtieri, marvelling at her constancy, sent him
with the child to Bologna, to one of his kinswomen, whom he besought to
rear and educate the child with all care, but never to let it be known
whose child she was.

Soon after it befell that the lady again conceived, and in due time was
delivered of a son, whereat Gualtieri was overjoyed. But, not content
with what he had done, he now even more poignantly afflicted the lady;
and one day with a ruffled mien:--"Wife," quoth he, "since thou gavest
birth to this boy, I may on no wise live in peace with my vassals, so
bitterly do they reproach me that a grandson of Giannucolo is to succeed
me as their lord; and therefore I fear that, so I be not minded to be
sent a packing hence, I must even do herein as I did before, and in the
end put thee away, and take another wife." The lady heard him patiently,
and answered only:--"My lord, study how thou mayst content thee and best
please thyself, and waste no thought upon me, for there is nought I
desire save in so far as I know that 'tis thy pleasure." Not many days
after, Gualtieri, in like manner as he had sent for the daughter, sent
for the son, and having made a shew of putting him to death, provided for
his, as for the girl's, nurture at Bologna. Whereat the lady shewed no
more discomposure of countenance or speech than at the loss of her
daughter: which Gualtieri found passing strange, and inly affirmed that
there was never another woman in the world that would have so done. And
but that he had marked that she was most tenderly affectionate towards
her children, while 'twas well pleasing to him, he had supposed that she
was tired of them, whereas he knew that 'twas of her discretion that she
so did. His vassals, who believed that he had put the children to death,
held him mightily to blame for his cruelty, and felt the utmost
compassion for the lady. She, however, said never aught to the ladies
that condoled with her on the death of her children, but that the
pleasure of him that had begotten them was her pleasure likewise.

Years not a few had passed since the girl's birth, when Gualtieri at
length deemed the time come to put his wife's patience to the final
proof. Accordingly, in the presence of a great company of his vassals he
declared that on no wise might he longer brook to have Griselda to wife,
that he confessed that in taking her he had done a sorry thing and the
act of a stripling, and that he therefore meant to do what he could to
procure the Pope's dispensation to put Griselda away, and take another
wife: for which cause being much upbraided by many worthy men, he made no
other answer but only that needs must it so be. Whereof the lady being
apprised, and now deeming that she must look to go back to her father's
house, and perchance tend the sheep, as she had aforetime, and see him,
to whom she was utterly devoted, engrossed by another woman, did inly
bewail herself right sorely: but still with the same composed mien with
which she had borne Fortune's former buffets, she set herself to endure
this last outrage. Nor was it long before Gualtieri by counterfeit
letters, which he caused to be sent to him from Rome, made his vassals
believe that the Pope had thereby given him a dispensation to put
Griselda away, and take another wife. Wherefore, having caused her to be
brought before him, he said to her in the presence of not a few:--"Wife,
by license granted me by the Pope, I am now free to put thee away, and
take another wife; and, for that my forbears have always been great
gentlemen and lords of these parts, whereas thine have ever been
husbandmen, I purpose that thou go back to Giannucolo's house with the
dowry that thou broughtest me; whereupon I shall bring home a lady that I
have found, and who is meet to be my wife."

'Twas not without travail most grievous that the lady, as she heard this
announcement, got the better of her woman's nature, and suppressing her
tears, made answer:--"My lord, I ever knew that my low degree was on no
wise congruous with your nobility, and acknowledged that the rank I had
with you was of your and God's bestowal, nor did I ever make as if it
were mine by gift, or so esteem it, but still accounted it as a loan.
'Tis your pleasure to recall it, and therefore it should be, and is, my
pleasure to render it up to you. So, here is your ring, with which you
espoused me; take it back. You bid me take with me the dowry that I
brought you; which to do will require neither paymaster on your part nor
purse nor packhorse on mine; for I am not unmindful that naked was I when
you first had me. And if you deem it seemly that that body in which I
have borne children, by you begotten, be beheld of all, naked will I
depart; but yet, I pray you, be pleased, in guerdon of the virginity that
I brought you and take not away, to suffer me to bear hence upon my back
a single shift--I crave no more--besides my dowry." There was nought of
which Gualtieri was so fain as to weep; but yet, setting his face as a
flint, he made answer:--"I allow thee a shift to thy back; so get thee
hence." All that stood by besought him to give her a robe, that she, who
had been his wife for thirteen years and more, might not be seen to quit
his house in so sorry and shameful a plight, having nought on her but a
shift. But their entreaties went for nothing: the lady in her shift, and
barefoot and bareheaded, having bade them adieu, departed the house, and
went back to her father amid the tears and lamentations of all that saw
her. Giannucolo, who had ever deemed it a thing incredible that Gualtieri
should keep his daughter to wife, and had looked for this to happen every
day, and had kept the clothes that she had put off on the morning that
Gualtieri had wedded her, now brought them to her; and she, having
resumed them, applied herself to the petty drudgery of her father's
house, as she had been wont, enduring with fortitude this cruel
visitation of adverse Fortune.

Now no sooner had Gualtieri dismissed Griselda, than he gave his vassals
to understand that he had taken to wife a daughter of one of the Counts
of Panago. He accordingly made great preparations as for the nuptials,
during which he sent for Griselda. To whom, being come, quoth he:--"I am
bringing hither my new bride, and in this her first home-coming I purpose
to shew her honour; and thou knowest that women I have none in the house
that know how to set chambers in due order, or attend to the many other
matters that so joyful an event requires; wherefore do thou, that
understandest these things better than another, see to all that needs be
done, and bid hither such ladies as thou mayst see fit, and receive them,
as if thou wert the lady of the house, and then, when the nuptials are
ended, thou mayst go back to thy cottage." Albeit each of these words
pierced Griselda's heart like a knife, for that, in resigning her good
fortune, she had not been able to renounce the love she bore Gualtieri,
nevertheless:--"My lord," she made answer, "I am ready and prompt to do
your pleasure." And so, clad in her sorry garments of coarse romagnole,
she entered the house, which, but a little before, she had quitted in her
shift, and addressed her to sweep the chambers, and arrange arras and
cushions in the halls, and make ready the kitchen, and set her hand to
everything, as if she had been a paltry serving-wench: nor did she rest
until she had brought all into such meet and seemly trim as the occasion
demanded. This done, she invited in Gualtieri's name all the ladies of
those parts to be present at his nuptials, and awaited the event. The day
being come, still wearing her sorry weeds, but in heart and soul and mien
the lady, she received the ladies as they came, and gave each a gladsome

Now Gualtieri, as we said, had caused his children to be carefully
nurtured and brought up by a kinswoman of his at Bologna, which kinswoman
was married into the family of the Counts of Panago; and, the girl being
now twelve years old, and the loveliest creature that ever was seen, and
the boy being about six years old, he had sent word to his kinswoman's
husband at Bologna, praying him to be pleased to come with this girl and
boy of his to Saluzzo, and to see that he brought a goodly and honourable
company with him, and to give all to understand that he brought the girl
to him to wife, and on no wise to disclose to any, who she really was.
The gentleman did as the Marquis bade him, and within a few days of his
setting forth arrived at Saluzzo about breakfast-time with the girl, and
her brother, and a noble company, and found all the folk of those parts,
and much people besides, gathered there in expectation of Gualtieri's new
bride. Who, being received by the ladies, was no sooner come into the
hall, where the tables were set, than Griselda advanced to meet her,
saying with hearty cheer:--"Welcome, my lady." So the ladies, who had
with much instance, but in vain, besought Gualtieri, either to let
Griselda keep in another room, or at any rate to furnish her with one of
the robes that had been hers, that she might not present herself in such
a sorry guise before the strangers, sate down to table; and the service
being begun, the eyes of all were set on the girl, and every one said
that Gualtieri had made a good exchange, and Griselda joined with the
rest in greatly commending her, and also her little brother. And now
Gualtieri, sated at last with all that he had seen of his wife's
patience, marking that this new and strange turn made not the least
alteration in her demeanour, and being well assured that 'twas not due to
apathy, for he knew her to be of excellent understanding, deemed it time
to relieve her of the suffering which he judged her to dissemble under a
resolute front; and so, having called her to him in presence of them all,
he said with a smile:--"And what thinkst thou of our bride?" "My lord,"
replied Griselda, "I think mighty well of her; and if she be but as
discreet as she is fair--and so I deem her--I make no doubt but you may
reckon to lead with her a life of incomparable felicity; but with all
earnestness I entreat you, that you spare her those tribulations which
you did once inflict upon another that was yours, for I scarce think she
would be able to bear them, as well because she is younger, as for that
she has been delicately nurtured, whereas that other had known no respite
of hardship since she was but a little child." Marking that she made no
doubt but that the girl was to be his wife, and yet spoke never a whit
the less sweetly, Gualtieri caused her to sit down beside him,
and:--"Griselda," said he, "'tis now time that thou see the reward of thy
long patience, and that those, who have deemed me cruel and unjust and
insensate, should know that what I did was done of purpose aforethought,
for that I was minded to give both thee and them a lesson, that thou
mightst learn to be a wife, and they in like manner might learn how to
take and keep a wife, and that I might beget me perpetual peace with thee
for the rest of my life; whereof being in great fear, when I came to take
a wife, lest I should be disappointed, I therefore, to put the matter to
the proof, did, and how sorely thou knowest, harass and afflict thee. And
since I never knew thee either by deed or by word to deviate from my
will, I now, deeming myself to have of thee that assurance of happiness
which I desired, am minded to restore to thee at once all that, step by
step, I took from thee, and by extremity of joy to compensate the
tribulations that I inflicted on thee. Receive, then, this girl, whom
thou supposest to be my bride, and her brother, with glad heart, as thy
children and mine. These are they, whom by thee and many another it has
long been supposed that I did ruthlessly to death, and I am thy husband,
that loves thee more dearly than aught else, deeming that other there is
none that has the like good cause to be well content with his wife."

Which said, he embraced and kissed her; and then, while she wept for joy,
they rose and hied them there where sate the daughter, all astonied to
hear the news, whom, as also her brother, they tenderly embraced, and
explained to them, and many others that stood by, the whole mystery.
Whereat the ladies, transported with delight, rose from table and betook
them with Griselda to a chamber, and, with better omen, divested her of
her sorry garb, and arrayed her in one of her own robes of state; and so,
in guise of a lady (howbeit in her rags she had shewed as no less) they
led her back into the hall. Wondrous was the cheer which there they made
with the children; and, all overjoyed at the event, they revelled and
made merry amain, and prolonged the festivities for several days; and
very discreet they pronounced Gualtieri, albeit they censured as
intolerably harsh the probation to which he had subjected Griselda, and
most discreet beyond all compare they accounted Griselda.

Some days after, the Count of Panago returned to Bologna, and Gualtieri
took Giannucolo from his husbandry, and established him in honour as his
father-in-law, wherein to his great solace he lived for the rest of his
days. Gualtieri himself, having mated his daughter with a husband of high
degree, lived long and happily thereafter with Griselda, to whom he ever
paid all honour.

Now what shall we say in this case but that even into the cots of the
poor the heavens let fall at times spirits divine, as into the palaces of
kings souls that are fitter to tend hogs than to exercise lordship over
men? Who but Griselda had been able, with a countenance not only
tearless, but cheerful, to endure the hard and unheard-of trials to which
Gualtieri subjected her? Who perhaps might have deemed himself to have
made no bad investment, had he chanced upon one, who, having been turned
out of his house in her shift, had found means so to dust the pelisse of
another as to get herself thereby a fine robe.

So ended Dioneo's story, whereof the ladies, diversely inclining, one to
censure where another found matter for commendation, had discoursed not a
little, when the king, having glanced at the sky, and marked that the sun
was now low, insomuch that 'twas nigh the vesper hour, still keeping his
seat, thus began:--"Exquisite my ladies, as, methinks, you wot, 'tis not
only in minding them of the past and apprehending the present that the
wit of mortals consists; but by one means or the other to be able to
foresee the future is by the sages accounted the height of wisdom. Now,
to-morrow, as you know, 'twill be fifteen days since, in quest of
recreation and for the conservation of our health and life, we, shunning
the dismal and dolorous and afflicting spectacles that have ceased not in
our city since this season of pestilence began, took our departure from
Florence. Wherein, to my thinking, we have done nought that was not
seemly; for, if I have duly used my powers of observation, albeit some
gay stories, and of a kind to stimulate concupiscence, have here been
told, and we have daily known no lack of dainty dishes and good wine, nor
yet of music and song, things, one and all, apt to incite weak minds to
that which is not seemly, neither on your part, nor on ours, have I
marked deed or word, or aught of any kind, that called for reprehension;
but, by what I have seen and heard, seemliness and the sweet intimacy of
brothers and sisters have ever reigned among us. Which, assuredly, for
the honour and advantage which you and I have had thereof, is most
grateful to me. Wherefore, lest too long continuance in this way of life
might beget some occasion of weariness, and that no man may be able to
misconstrue our too long abidance here, and as we have all of us had our
day's share of the honour which still remains in me, I should deem it
meet, so you be of like mind, that we now go back whence we came: and
that the rather that our company, the bruit whereof has already reached
divers others that are in our neighbourhood, might be so increased that
all our pleasure would be destroyed. And so, if my counsel meet with your
approval, I will keep the crown I have received of you until our
departure, which, I purpose, shall be tomorrow morning. Should you decide
otherwise, I have already determined whom to crown for the ensuing day."

Much debate ensued among the ladies and young men; but in the end they
approved the king's proposal as expedient and seemly; and resolved to do
even as he had said. The king therefore summoned the seneschal; and
having conferred with him of the order he was to observe on the morrow,
he dismissed the company until supper-time. So, the king being risen, the
ladies and the rest likewise rose, and betook them, as they were wont, to
their several diversions. Supper-time being come, they supped with
exceeding great delight. Which done, they addressed them to song and
music and dancing; and, while Lauretta was leading a dance, the king bade
Fiammetta give them a song; whereupon Fiammetta right debonairly sang on
this wise:--

So came but Love, and brought no jealousy,
So blithe, I wot, as I,
Dame were there none, be she whoe'er she be.

If youth's fresh, lusty pride
May lady of her lover well content,
Or valour's just renown,
Hardihood, prowess tried,
Wit, noble mien, discourse most excellent,
And of all grace the crown;
That she am I, who, fain for love to swoun,
There where my hope doth lie
These several virtues all conjoined do see.

But, for that I less wise
Than me no whit do other dames discern,
Trembling with sore dismay,
I still the worst surmise,
Deeming their hearts with the same flame to burn
That of mine maketh prey:
Wherefore of him that is my hope's one stay
Disconsolate I sigh,
Yea mightily, and daily do me dree.

If but my lord as true
As worthy to be loved I might approve,
I were not jealous then:
But, for that charmer new
Doth all too often gallant lure to love,
Forsworn I hold all men,
And sick at heart I am, of death full fain;
Nor lady doth him eye,
But I do quake, lest she him wrest from me.

'Fore God, then, let each she
List to my prayer, nor e'er in my despite
Such grievous wrong essay;
For should there any be
That by or speech or mien's allurements light
Of him to rob me may
Study or plot, I, witting, shall find way,
My beauty it aby!
To cause her sore lament such frenesie.

As soon as Fiammetta had ended her song, Dioneo, who was beside her, said
with a laugh:--"Madam, 'twould be a great courtesy on your part to do all
ladies to wit, who he is, that he be not stolen from you in ignorance,
seeing that you threaten such dire resentment." Several other songs
followed; and it being then nigh upon midnight, all, as the king was
pleased to order, betook them to rest. With the first light of the new
day they rose, and, the seneschal having already conveyed thence all
their chattels, they, following the lead of their discreet king, hied
them back to Florence; and in Santa Maria Novella, whence they had set
forth, the three young men took leave of the seven ladies, and departed
to find other diversions elsewhere, while the ladies in due time repaired
to their homes.


Most noble damsels, for whose solace I addressed me to this long and
toilsome task, meseems that, aided by the Divine grace, the bestowal
whereof I impute to the efficacy of your pious prayers, and in no wise to
merits of mine, I have now brought this work to the full and perfect
consummation which in the outset thereof I promised you. Wherefore, it
but remains for me to render, first to God, and then to you, my thanks,
and so to give a rest to my pen and weary hand. But this I purpose not to
allow them, until, briefly, as to questions tacitly mooted--for well
assured I am that these stories have no especial privilege above any
others, nay, I forget not that at the beginning of the Fourth Day I have
made the same plain--I shall have answered certain trifling objections
that one of you, maybe, or some other, might advance. Peradventure, then,
some of you will be found to say that I have used excessive license in
the writing of these stories, in that I have caused ladies at times to
tell, and oftentimes to list, matters that, whether to tell or to list,
do not well beseem virtuous women. The which I deny, for that there is
none of these stories so unseemly, but that it may without offence be
told by any one, if but seemly words be used; which rule, methinks, has
here been very well observed. But assume we that 'tis even so (for with
you I am not minded to engage in argument, witting that you would
vanquish me), then, I say that for answer why I have so done, reasons
many come very readily to hand. In the first place, if aught of the kind
in any of these stories there be, 'twas but such as was demanded by the
character of the stories, which let but any person of sound judgment scan
with the eye of reason, and 'twill be abundantly manifest that, unless I
had been minded to deform them, they could not have been otherwise
recounted. And if, perchance, they do, after all, contain here and there
a trifling indiscretion of speech, such as might ill sort with one of
your precious prudes, who weigh words rather than deeds, and are more
concerned to appear, than to be, good, I say that so to write was as
permissible to me, as 'tis to men and women at large in their converse to
make use of such terms as hole, and pin, and mortar, and pestle, and
sausage, and polony, and plenty more besides of a like sort. And
therewithal privilege no less should be allowed to my pen than to the
pencil of the painter, who without incurring any, or at least any just,
censure, not only will depict St. Michael smiting the serpent, or St.
George the dragon, with sword or lance at his discretion; but male he
paints us Christ, and female Eve, and His feet that for the salvation of
our race willed to die upon the cross he fastens thereto, now with one,
now with two nails.

Moreover, 'tis patent to all that 'twas not in the Church, of matters
whereto pertaining 'tis meet we speak with all purity of heart and
seemliness of phrase, albeit among her histories there are to be found
not a few that will ill compare with my writings; nor yet in the schools
of the philosophers, where, as much as anywhere, seemliness is demanded,
nor in any place where clergy or philosophers congregate, but in gardens,
in pleasaunces, and among folk, young indeed, but not so young as to be
seducible by stories, and at a time when, if so one might save one's
life, the most sedate might without disgrace walk abroad with his
breeches for headgear, that these stories were told. Which stories, such
as they are, may, like all things else, be baneful or profitable
according to the quality of the hearer. Who knows not that wine is, as
Cinciglione and Scolaio(1) and many another aver, an excellent thing for
the living creature, and yet noxious to the fevered patient? Are we, for
the mischief it does to the fever-stricken, to say that 'tis a bad thing?
Who knows not that fire is most serviceable, nay, necessary, to mortals?
Are we to say that, because it burns houses and villages and cities, it
is a bad thing? Arms, in like manner, are the safeguard of those that
desire to live in peace, and also by them are men not seldom maliciously
slain, albeit the malice is not in them, but in those that use them for a
malicious purpose. Corrupt mind did never yet understand any word in a
wholesome sense; and as such a mind has no profit of seemly words, so
such as are scarce seemly may as little avail to contaminate a healthy
mind as mud the radiance of the sun, or the deformities of earth the
splendours of the heavens. What books, what words, what letters, are more
sacred, more excellent, more venerable, than those of Holy Writ? And yet
there have been not a few that, perversely construing them, have brought
themselves and others to perdition. Everything is in itself good for
somewhat, and being put to a bad purpose, may work manifold mischief. And
so, I say, it is with my stories. If any man shall be minded to draw from
them matters of evil tendency or consequence, they will not gainsay him,
if, perchance, such matters there be in them, nor will such matters fail
to be found in them, if they be wrested and distorted. Nor, if any shall
seek profit and reward in them, will they deny him the same; and censured
or accounted as less than profitable and seemly they can never be, if the
times or the persons when and by whom they are read be such as when they
were recounted. If any lady must needs say paternosters or make cakes or
tarts for her holy father, let her leave them alone; there is none after
whom they will run a begging to be read: howbeit, there are little
matters that even the beguines tell, ay, and do, now and again.

In like manner there will be some who will say that there are stories
here which 'twere better far had been omitted. Granted; but 'twas neither
in my power, nor did it behove me, to write any but such stories as were
narrated; wherefore, 'twas for those by whom they were told to have a
care that they were proper; in which case they would have been no less so
as I wrote them. But, assuming that I not only wrote but invented the
stories, as I did not, I say that I should take no shame to myself that
they were not all proper; seeing that artist there is none to be found,
save God, that does all things well and perfectly. And Charlemagne,
albeit he created the Paladins, wist not how to make them in such numbers
as to form an army of them alone. It must needs be that in the multitude
of things there be found diversities of quality. No field was ever so
well tilled but that here and there nettle, or thistle, or brier would be
found in it amid the goodlier growths. Whereto I may add that, having to
address me to young and unlearned ladies, as you for the most part are, I
should have done foolishly, had I gone about searching and swinking to
find matters very exquisite, and been sedulous to speak with great
precision. However, whoso goes a reading among these stories, let him
pass over those that vex him, and read those that please him. That none
may be misled, each bears on its brow the epitome of that which it hides
within its bosom.

Again, I doubt not there will be such as will say that some of the
stories are too long. To whom, once more, I answer, that whoso has aught
else to do would be foolish to read them, albeit they were short. And
though, now that I approach the end of my labours, 'tis long since I
began to write, I am not, therefore, oblivious that 'twas to none but
leisured ladies that I made proffer of my pains; nor can aught be long to
him that reads but to pass the time, so only he thereby accomplish his
purpose. Succinctness were rather to be desired by students, who are at
pains not merely to pass, but usefully to employ, their time, than by
you, who have as much time at your disposal as you spend not in amorous
delights. Besides which, as none of you goes either to Athens, or to
Bologna, or to Paris to study, 'tis meet that what is meant for you
should be more diffuse than what is to be read by those whose minds have
been refined by scholarly pursuits.

Nor make I any doubt but there are yet others who will say that the said
stories are too full of jests and merry conceits, and that it ill beseems
a man of weight and gravity to have written on such wise. To these I am
bound to render, and do render, my thanks, for that, prompted by
well-meant zeal, they have so tender a regard to my reputation. But to
that, which they urge against me, I reply after this sort:--That I am of
weight I acknowledge, having been often weighed in my time; wherefore, in
answer to the fair that have not weighed me, I affirm that I am not of
gravity; on the contrary I am so light that I float on the surface of the
water; and considering that the sermons which the friars make, when they
would chide folk for their sins, are to-day, for the most part, full of
jests and merry conceits, and drolleries, I deemed that the like stuff
would not ill beseem my stories, written, as they were, to banish women's
dumps. However, if thereby they should laugh too much, they may be
readily cured thereof by the Lament of Jeremiah, the Passion of the
Saviour, or the Complaint of the Magdalen.

And who shall question but that yet others there are who will say that I
have an evil tongue and venomous, because here and there I tell the truth
about the friars? Now for them that so say there is forgiveness, for that
'tis not to be believed but that they have just cause; seeing that the
friars are good folk, and eschew hardship for the love of God, and grind
intermittently, and never blab; and, were they not all a trifle
malodorous, intercourse with them would be much more agreeable.
Nevertheless, I acknowledge that the things of this world have no
stability, but are ever undergoing change; and this may have befallen my
tongue, albeit, no great while ago, one of my fair neighbours--for in
what pertains to myself I trust not my own judgment, but forgo it to the
best of my power--told me 'twas the goodliest and sweetest tongue in the
world; and in sooth, when this occurred, few of the said stories were yet
to write; nor, for that those who so tax me do it despitefully, am I
minded to vouchsafe them any further answer.

So, then, be every lady at liberty to say and believe whatever she may
think fit: but 'tis now time for me to bring these remarks to a close,
with humble thanks to Him, by whose help and guidance I, after so long
travail, have been brought to the desired goal. And may you, sweet my
ladies, rest ever in His grace and peace; and be not unmindful of me, if,
peradventure, any of you may, in any measure, have been profited by
reading these stories.

(1) Noted topers of the day.

Endeth here the tenth and last day of the book called Decameron,
otherwise Prince Galeotto.


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